Tag Archives: immune system

Elderberry and Immune Health

Did you know that elderberry has been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat influenza, colds and sinusitis. It has also been reported to have antiviral activity against influenza and herpes simplex. A study published back in 2004 (J Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40) demonstrated its efficacy and safety when used to treat influenza A and B infections. The study involved 60 patients (aged 18-54 years) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 h or less. They were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study during the influenza season of 1999-2000 in Norway. Patients received elderberry or placebo four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier than the placebo group. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza. However, as in all good studies, these findings need to be confirmed in a larger study.

Product Link: Elderberry Berries and Flowers

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Green vegetables directly influence immune defences and help maintain intestinal health

The discovery will also enable scientists to ask fundamental questions about the frequent interactions of cells of the immune system with external environmental factors. This work may provide a rationale for the reported association between some intestinal and skin disorders, the most frequent of which is psoriasis, as well as diet choices.

Read the research background and view the movie here :http://bbsrc.ac.uk/news/health/2011/111014-pr-green-vegetables.aspx.

Scientists confirm ‘greens’ are good for you

Not that we really need science to tell us that greens and vegetables are good for us but its nice to know that the age old advise to ‘eat your greens’ still holds up. Leafy greens, widely recognized as healthy because they contain essential ingredients for ensuring optimum health and wellbeing. The latest research has now thrown light on the influence these foods have on our intestinal health. It appears that greens delivering a protective factor to certain cells of the immune system. These findings, reported online in the journal Cell, have implications for better understanding the basis of intestinal inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and may even offer new opportunities for therapeutic intervention.

Scientists at the UK’s Babraham Institute and the Medical Research Council’s National Institute for Medical Research have been working on chemical components of greens found in the cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. Their research has focused on how these compounds regulate the survival of a special type of white blood cell (known as intra-epithelial lymphocytes or IEL’s for short), part of the body’s front line defence against infections and important in wound repair.

The IEL’s live just under the cells that line digestive tract and play a crucial role in protecting us from disease causing microbes that naturally inhabit the intestine. The research demonstrated that mice fed a diet low in vegetables quickly loose the IEL cells within the intestine. However, a low vegetable diet did not appear to affect other immune cells elsewhere in the body. Despite the low vegetable still delivering all other essential vitamins and minerals around 70-80% of the protective IEL’s simply disappeared within 2-3 weeks!

A key discovery that helped to unlock the mystery centered around the discovery of a special receptor on the surface of the IEL cells known as AhR (short for arly hydrocarbon receptor). A receptor is a special structure on a cell that acts rather like a combination lock. It needs the correct sequence of events to function or influence the function of the cell its found on. In the case of the IEL’s the receptor is activated by compounds found in vegetables. One such compound is called indole-3-carbinol (or I3C for short) and is found in cabbage, broccoli and mustard. Mice fed a low vegetable diet demonstrated low AhR activity while those on a low vegetable diet but supplemented with I3C maintained normal AhR activity and normal healthy IEL function. Interestingly, population studies have linked a diet low in fruit and vegetables with an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease with results of the present study providing a molecular basis for the importance of cruciferous vegetable-derived phyto-nutrients as part of a healthy diet.

In addition to the influence of IEL cells and intestinal health the scientists also found that IELs present in the mouse skin crucially depend on the activation of AhR. While the nature of the interactions preserving skin IELs is currently unknown, it may provide a rationale for the reported association between some intestinal and skin disorders, the most frequent of which is psoriasis, as well as diet choices. The bottom like here would appear to be “eat your greens” and possibly to look at supplements that contain a booster of nutrients found in greens such as Garden Veggies made by Nature’s Way. Even though a serving of vegetables should never be replaced by a supplement, using Garden Veggies in addition to your daily diet may help ensure optimal levels of the important health promoting vegetable derived compounds.

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Beta 1,3-Glucan: helping the body fight its own battles

Ask any CFS/FM sufferer and one of the cardinal features of the illness is an ineffective immune response often in the face of normal blood tests results. Interestingly, this CFS/FM observation has been noted in the past and given the rather apt description; lazy leukocyte syndrome. It was first described by in 1971 in two children with recurrent infection. The children had a normal immune system and bone marrow but their simply did not react to the triggers that should have called them to arms and stimulate them to attack an invading bug or more towards an injury site. (What are neutrophils? They are specialist white blood cells that account for 50-70% of our white cells and are the most common type of white blood cell in the body. They engulf and destroy other cells, bacteria and fungi and, rather like a honey-bee, die after doing so. They are the first immune cells to arrive at an infection site attracted by the chemicals released by the inflammatory process.)  Infection and injury is normally associated with the process known as inflammation, which in turn, is composed of a complex cascade of chemical triggers designed to stimulate the immune response and healing process. In cases of lazy leukocyte syndrome this step did not function correctly and the immune cells in question failed to react to the queues despite being otherwise normal. Subsequent studies in adults have demonstrated those with lazy leukocyte syndrome do have low levels of circulating neutrophils that can kill bugs but at the lower end of the normal ability expected for these cells. Lazy leukocyte syndrome is by no way the missing link for CFS/FM sufferers but it does illustrate the importance of an effective immune response despite the cells being otherwise normal. Conventional diagnostic tests may reassure all concerned that there are adequate white cells but their function and ability to react to infections and inflammation may be impaired, low or simply ineffective. There are more theories than facts regarding immune function in CFS/FM, but while the scientists are coming to a decision all those affected by a functionally impaired defense mechanism, despite being too well on paper to be ill, need to look beyond the conventional for an answer or at least some help in the meantime.

For well over 40 years researchers have been documenting the effects of naturally occurring beta glucans derived from the cell walls of yeast, seaweed, grains and some mushrooms. Interest in beta glucans grew after it was noted way back in 1957 that a crude yeast cell preparation significantly stimulated immune cell activity. Since then, its been estimated that over 2000 papers have been published on the immunological activities of beta glucans with focus developing on the specific beta-1,3 D-glucan form. Modern manufacturing techniques have developed taking the beta-1,3 D-glucan contained in the crude yeast extract through a process that yields 96-97% purity compared to the 40-50% level in the crude yeast extract products of old. Leading the way in beta-1,3 D-glucan purity of the US company Transfer Point who’s web pages describe the history and most recent beta glucan research that, in a nutshell, appears to have 4 key effects within the body;

  • Enhanced white cell production
  • Enhanced destruction of pathogens
  • Immune modulation: A balancing effect on an underactive or over active immune response
  • Enhanced white cell mobility

While its true to say that there have been no actual studies specifically on the effects of beta glucans in FM cases it is true to say that FM symptoms commonly flare up if an infection is present and that FM sufferers do appear to be more infection prone and may take longer to recover. If, in the case of a non-specific viral infection, there is no appropriate medical therapy its reasonable to consider a natural preparation such as beta glucan. From a dietary perspective, most of the immune enhancing effects attributed to mushrooms such as the Maiyake and Shiitake variety owe their effects to their natural beta glucan content. Increasing your intake of these mushroom varieties on a regular basis is an option and boosting your beta glucan intake with a supplement over stressful periods or when the bugs are doing the rounds could give you an immune advantage.

For maximal absorption, beta glucan supplements are best taken on an empty stomach. Because there have been no studies to say otherwise, beta glucan supplements should be avoided during pregnancy and breast feeding. Unless otherwise advised, those using immune regulating medications should not use beta glucan supplements. Anyone suffering from undiagnosed recurrent infections or fatigue should see their doctor before using beta glucan products.

Resources:

History and background research on Beta Glucan

 

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Probiotic confusion? Read on…

Probitotics have become pretty mainstream now. New food products emerge on grocery store shelves every week with at least some kind of probiotic ingredients and we’re not just talking yogurt anymore. They seem to be one of those things we know “we’re supposed to like.” But why?
First, bear in mind that in addition to the word “probiotics” they can be called by many different names, which you’ll probably see in health literature or product labels. These other terms include:
  • Microflora
  • Beneficial bacteria
  • Intestinal flora
These good bacteria – by any of these names — colonize inside the digestive tract. They stick to the walls of the colon and take up residence. In other words, they live down there. However, they don’t stick around forever, and need to be replenished, either from food or supplement sources.
The Benefits of Probiotics Go Beyond Digestion
While probiotics are definitely important for healthy digestion (which many would say is the source of good health in general) they do a lot more than that, including:
  • Keep nasty fungus and yeast cells at bay.
  • Help keep bowel movements soft, well-formed, and easy to pass, preventing constipation.
  • Help us absorb nutrients like calcium properly, which in turn, helps the body build healthy bones.
  • Produce lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose in milk, ice cream, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Prevent cholesterol from leaving the intestines and entering the bloodstream.
  • Help eliminate embarrassing gas and bloating.
  • Support the immune system and the way the body responds to inflammation.
So while the idea of whether you not you use probiotics might seem like a light one, it may be wise to not take it lightly.
Lactobacillus acidophilus & Bifidobacteria longum
Look at most food or supplement labels, and usually two probiotics stand out. There’s a good reason for this. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria longum are well-researched and provide significant health benefits. If these two names sound at all familiar, it’s because they are the species most often found in yogurt.
Interestingly, even though associated with dairy, Bifidobacteria longum assists in the breakdown of lactose and relieves some of the symptoms of lactose intolerance, including gas and bloating. Lactose intolerance is fairly common, especially in non-European individuals, and accounts for at least 50 million Americans.
While our microflora can naturally replenish, if we are stressed, on vacation, sick, overworked, or just feeling overwhelmed, it can take a long time. Without giving probiotic numbers a boost now and then, some digestive concerns – or possibly others – could reassert themselves in their absence.
So whether you prefer the food-based form, or have a favorite supplement in mind (or use both – there’s nothing wrong with that!) the important thing is to get that beneficial bacteria on board. It makes for a much easier journey.
Immune focus
70% of your immune system is in your digestive tract, which means healthy digestion actually promotes your natural defense system! For the ultimate in immune protection, Pearls Immune contains superior probiotics, plus the biologically-active power of Activ-Ferrin™ lactoferrin.
Pearls Immune:
  • Contains highly-concentrated Activ-Ferrin to naturally strengthen your immune health.
  • Lactoferrin is a powerhouse antioxidant, so it can help knock out the free radicals that can cause damage to your body’s cells and stress out your immune system.
  • Delivers probiotics to balance your immune system by restoring digestive health.
This proprietary blend includes Lactobacillus acidophilus and plantarum, plus Bifidobacterium lactis and longum. These strains are the “heavy hitters” of digestive support and immune response.

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Limited offer on Smart Q10

If you are a co-enzyme Q10 user – read on… We have a special but limited supply of Smart Q10 that is being offered on a but-1-get-1-FREE deal. This is a genuinely unique product and to our knowledge, the only Q10 product that can boast that 21 studies in support of its use.See April 28th blog entry for a list of these studies.

Q10, also referred to as coenzyme Q 10 or ubiquinone, is a natural fat-soluble nutrient present in virtually all living cells in the body. CoQ10 has a crucial role as a cofactor in the mitochondrial synthesis of cellular energy. Although it is produced by the body and exists in some dietary sources, these levels may be insufficient to meet the body’s requirement.

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The smart choice is Smart-Q10!

What is it and how does it work?
CoQ10, also referred to as coenzyme Q 10 or ubiquinone, is a natural fat-soluble nutrient present in virtually all living cells in the body. CoQ10 has a crucial role as a cofactor in the mitochondrial synthesis of cellular energy. Although it is produced by the body and exists in some dietary sources, these levels may be insufficient to meet the body’s requirement. A deficiency can result from impaired synthesis due to nutritional deficiencies, increasing age, or increased tissue demands. Numerous diseases may exhibit CoQ10 depletion. CoQ10 also functions as a potent antioxidant.
However, all CoQ10 products are not equal. They vary greatly in quality and absorbability. Serum level determination of CoQ10 in the bloodstream is not necessarily the most important measure of efficacy. In order for it to be fully effective, it must cross the cellular barrier and raise the intracellular levels. The only reliable indicator of CoQ10 supplementation is its presence in cell mitochondria. In central nervous system applications, CoQ10 must pass the blood brain barrier, resulting in increased brain intracellular levels to exert its effects.
Smart Q10™ CoQ10 is currently the only coenzyme Q10 supplement supported by studies that show increased serum levels, increased intracellular levels, and demonstrated ability to cross the blood brain barrier.
Smart Q10 CoQ10 wafers contain coenzyme Q10 emulsified in vitamin E and mixed tocopherols and is formulated with Micosolle®, a proprietary excipient.1 Clinical studies have demonstrated that this process enhances the absorption of CoQ10.
Two different methods can be used for the production of coenzyme Q10. One method is natural and the other is synthetic. The natural process utilizes living organisms and is referred to as a “biological fermentation/extraction process.” Coenzyme Q10 can also be synthesized by a chemical process, which produces a similar, but distinctly different product that contains chemical compounds not found in the natural form. smart Q10 CoQ10 contains the natural form of coenzyme Q10.

The Mitochondria
Mitochondria are highly specialized structures (organelles) within each nucleated cell. The number of mitochondria in a cell depends on the cell’s function. Cells with particularly heavy energy demands, such as heart muscle cells, have more mitochondria than other cells. The mitochondria’s primary responsibility is to capture most of the energy in nutrients and convert it into cellular energy. This energy conversion and storage is a complex, multi-step process that follows a specific pathway.
The converted cellular energy is stored in the energy-yielding molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) used to fuel the cell’s activities. (This is similar to the energy stored in gasoline that is used to fuel automobiles). Because this process requires oxygen, it is often referred to as cellular respiration. Obtaining as many electrons out of the nutrients as possible is the goal of cellular respiration. That is why part of the pathway is referred to as the electron pathway chain. CoQ10 functions as a vital link in the process of converting nutrients into ATP. Cellular respiration and the electron transport chain are completely dependent on CoQ10.
Mitochondrial Compartments
Mitochondria are encased in double membranes. The smooth outer membrane encloses the periphery of the mitochondria and the inner membrane is enfolded to form the cristae. CoQ10 is found in the cristae folds. Cristae folds provide a large surface area for cellular respiration.
Mitochondria are unusual organelles in that they contain their own deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA).9,10 Insufficient CoQ10 levels may have an effect on cellular respiration and mitochondrial DNA.
Smart Q10™ CoQ10 and Support of Cardiac Health
Cardiac cells require large amounts of uninterrupted energy. They have a greater number of mitochondria and subsequently more CoQ10 than any other type of cell. Because of this association, CoQ10’s support of cardiac health is well researched and documented. CoQ10 supports healthy heart contractility and subsequent circulation, blood pressure, and exercise endurance. Due to Smart Q10 CoQ10’s ability to pass through the cell membrane and enter the mitochondria, enhanced levels can be attained.
Smart Q10™ CoQ10 and Support of the Neurological System
The Blood-Brain Barrier
The blood-barrier is a unique anatomical structure. Simply stated, the cells that make up the blood vessels that provide blood to the brain are extremely close together. This greatly restricts what can and cannot leave the bloodstream and enter the brain. While the blood-brain barrier protects the brain from potentially toxic substances, it can be a significant obstacle to therapy of central nervous system disorders. In order to leave the bloodstream and reach the brain cells, a substance must be able to pass through the tightly connected cells of the capillary walls. Only substances with certain solubilities or those that have a transport system can cross the blood-brain barrier to a significant degree.
Recently, CoQ10 has been studied for its effect in support of neurological health. When CoQ10 crosses the blood-brain barrier, mitochondrial concentrations are increased and clinical results indicate that significant neurosupportive effects follow. Clinical studies have examined the role of CoQ10 in the neurological system.
Smart Q10™ CoQ10 and Support of Immune Health
CoQ10 is necessary for immune health.† Increased free radical activity causes damage to cell membranes, mitochondria, and DNA. Supplementation with CoQ10 provides enhanced antioxidant activity that is supportive of the immune system.
Natural Vitamin E
The common name “vitamin E” is an umbrella term for a family of compounds known as the tocopherols. There are at least 8 forms of tocopherols including, alpha-tocopherol, beta-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, and gamma-tocopherol. These tocopherols are all naturally created by plants, and when used in vitamin E supplements, are considered natural vitamin E.
Recently, the concomitant administration of vitamin E and CoQ10 has been studied. Research has demonstrated that CoQ10 can improve vitamin E’s antioxidant function and protect it from depletion.
Smart Q10™  and Clinical Trials
The formulation of Smart Q10™ CoQ10 is unique among CoQ10 supplements. Currently, three large multi-center studies investigating Smart Q10™ CoQ10 are ongoing. All of these clinical trials are investigating Smart Q10™ CoQ10 health supportive effects on the nervous system. To date, 21 published studies have used Smart Q10™ CoQ10 in their research.
The 21 Studies and Presentations at Medical Symposiums Utilizing Vitaline® Coenzyme Q10 Dietary Supplement Products:
  1. Matthews RT, Yang L, Browne S, Baik MF. Coenzyme Q10 administration increases brain mitochondrial concentrations and exerts neuroprotective effects. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1998; 95:8892-8897.
  2. Langsjoen P. Overview of the use of CoQ10 in cardiovascular disease. Presented at The First Conference of the International Coenzyme Q10 Association. Boston, Mass, May 21-24, 1998.
  3. Koroshetz W. Huntington’s Disease Clinical Trail. Presented at the First Conference of the International Coenzyme Q10 Association. Boston. Mass, May 21-24, 1998.
  4. Shults CW, Haas RH, Flint Beal M. A possible role of coenzyme Q10 in the etiology and treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Proceedings of First Conference of the International Coenzyme Q10 Association, 95:8892-8897, July 21, 1998.
  5. Beal MF. Coenzyme Q10 as a potential treatment for neurodegenerative diseases. Presented at the First Conference of the International Coenzyme Q10 Association. Boston. Mass, May 21-24, 1998.
  6. Beal MF. Energy impairment and Huntington’s disease. Presented at the Mitochondrial Medicine Conference. University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center, San Diego, Calif, Feb 19-21, 1998.
  7. Kieburtz K, Rickey T. Co-enzyme Q10 and remacemide: evaluation in Huntington¡¦s disease (CARE-HD). A controlled investigation by the Huntington Study Group. Clinical trial in progress. Institutions participating in the CARE-HD Study: Allegheny University, Baylor College of Medicine, Boston University, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Colorado Neurological Institute, Columbia-Presbyterian, Emory University, Indiana School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Rush-Presbyterian-St.Luke’s Medical Center, Tampa General Hospital, and the universities of Alberta, British Columbia, Calgary, Iowa, Kansas Medical Center, Miami School of Medicine, Michigan, Rochester, Toronto, and Virginia. June 1997-2002.
  8. Langsjoen PH, Langsjoen A, Willis R, Folkers K. Treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with coenzyme Q10. Mol Aspects Med. 1997;18:S145-S151.
  9. Shults CW, Flint Beal MD, Fontaine D, Nakeno K, Haas RH. Absorption, tolerability, and effects on mitochondrial activity of oral coenzyme Q10 in parkinsonian patients. Neurology. 1998;50:793-795.
  10. Flint Beal M, Matthews RT, Tielman A, Shults CW. Coenzyme Q10 attenuates the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetradopyridine (MPTP) induced loss of striatal dopamine and dopaminergic axons in aged mice. Brain Res. 1998;783:109-114.
  11. Flint Beal M, Matthews RT. Coenzyme Q10 in the central nervous system and its potential usefulness in the treatment of neurodegenerative disease. Mol Aspects Med. 1997;18:S169-S179.
  12. Schwid SR, Mattson DH, Goodman AD. A phase II trial of coenzyme Q10 in MS. Clinical trial in progress. University of Rochester, Department of Neurology, Neuroimmunology Unit, Rochester, New York. 1996-2000.
  13. Koroshetz W. Huntington’s Disease Clinical Trail. Presented at the First Conference of the International Coenzyme Q10 Association. Boston, Mass, May 21-24, 1998.
  14. Shults CW, Haas RH, Passov D, Flint Beal M Coenzyme Q10 levels correlate with the activities of complexes I and II/III in mitochondria from parkinsonian and nonparkinsonian subjects. Ann Neurol. 1997;42:261-264.
  15. Feigin A, Kieburtz K, Como C, et al. Assessment of coenzyme Q10 tolerability in Huntington’s disease. Mov Disord. 1996;11:321-323.
  16. Cros D. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Harvard Medical School- Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Neurology EMG Unit-Bigelow 12, Boston, Mass, 1995-1998.
  17. Tardive Dyskinesia Study Using Coenzyme Q10 and Nicotinamide. Harvard Medical School-Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, Freedom Trial Clinic, Erich Lindemann Mental Health Center, Boston, Mass, 1995.
  18. Costeff H. CoQ10 and 3-Methylglutaconic Aciduria. Neuropediatric Unit. Loewenstein Hospital Rehabilitation Center, Tel Aviv. Medical School, Raanana, Israel, 1998.
  19. Flint Beal. Neuroprotective strategies for treatment of lesions produced by mitochondrial toxins: implications for neurodegenerative diseases. Neuroscience. 1996;71:1043-1048.
  20. Flint Beal M, Henshaw R, Jenkins BG, Rosen BR, Schulz JB. Coenzyme Q10 and nicotinamide block striatal lesions produced by the mitochondrial toxin malonate. Ann Neurol 1994;36:882-888.
  21. Schulz JB, Henshaw RD, Matthews RT, Flint Beal M. Coenzyme Q10 and nicotinamide and a free radical spin trap protect against MPTP neurotoxicity. Exp Neurol. 1995;132:279-283.

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